The role of stone lantern in Japan is not just for lighting up. This article introduces how Japanese people utilize stone lanterns.
First, people votive a fire for Shinto Gods or Buddhist statues. This would be the first way to use stone lanterns in ancient Japan. In shrines and temples, stone lanterns have been used for lightning up at night. Stone lanterns in Japanese gardens are also placed for the same purpose.
Japanese people use stone lanterns for other purposes, too. They recognize lanterns as an offering for Gods. Sometimes, lanterns are placed just for ornamental purposes in temples and shrines.
In roads, stone lanterns are even used for signposts. In Ise Prefecture, for example, you could arrive in the main building of Ise Shrine by following stone lanterns placed in a huge precinct of the shrine.
Interestingly, you can also find stone lanterns at the foot of mountains. They points out the way to temples or shrines on the mountain.
It is a quite rare case, but some stone lanterns are used as a tombstone. In Daitoku-ji Temple, Kyoto, for example, there is a grave of Hosokawa Tadaoki, a Japanese samurai warrior of the late Sengoku period and early Edo period. His and his wife’s grave shapes just like stone lantern.